Jan. 27, 2023 - A sophomore at Pieper High School in the Comal Independent School District was one of only 10 students from across the nation and Europe selected for the 2022 Fall Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in October.
Jordyn Polk, 16, not only represented PHS and the district, she received the outstanding participant award, named the Suzy Carlton Student Leadership and Civic Responsibility Award, at the end of the week-long program.
“It was an amazing opportunity and experience,” says Polk, who was the youngest participant this year. “I enjoyed meeting people and bettering myself both in my leadership qualities and as a person.”
Named for Frances Hesselbein, who served as the chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts for 13 years and passed away just a month ago at the age of 107, this bi-annual leadership opportunity was established by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) for sophomore and junior military-connected students.
Offered twice a year, once in the fall at West Point and once in the spring at the Air Force Academy, the Hesselbein program provides participants with leadership and team-building skills which help them gain confidence and competence.
Additionally, students collaborate and share how they have been successful as leaders and make a commitment to build Student 2 Student (S2S) programs on their local campuses. A student-lead program, S2S brings military and civilian students together in order for them to welcome new students, create a positive environment, ease transitions and more. In fact, students must be active in S2S to apply for one of the Hesselbein programs.
Polk, who comes from a military family, is a member of the PHS S2S and is helping to expand the program throughout the district.
“Since participating in the leadership program at West Point, I have had a better sense of self,” Polk says, “and I’ve been able to plan better and not miss anything. I’m very involved, so being able to communicate and manage my time has really helped me.”
Involved indeed, besides S2S, Polk is treasurer of the PHS student council, a member of AVID, a member of the Texas Future Music Educators (TFME), in the varsity choir and the manager of the varsity girls basketball team.
She plans to continue to hone her leadership skills and is grateful for the opportunities that she has had to gain those skills. These include leadership programs at the University of Texas at San Antonio through MCEC and the Comal ISD Student Leadership Summit 2022.
“Leadership is not just about what position you are in but what you do there, and what you do with the people around you,” says Polk, who wants to start her own nonprofit one day. “It is using what you know to better them and to get them to a common goal and task.”
One of her favorite lessons from the Hesselbein program was about resilience. The instructor told them, “Resilient people bounce, not break,” explained Polk.
“This meant that you are going to fall. You are going to have setbacks, and you are going to struggle, but you have to be able to get back up.”
She highly recommends and encourages students to take advantage of the leadership opportunities that their campuses and the district offer them.
“These leadership opportunities help prepare you for life’s hardships and teach you how to help others go through hardships,” Polks says. “Overall, you will be a better person and have a better future with these lessons.”
The MCEC provides support to military-connected students through peer-to-peer mentoring programs, the Frances Hesselbein Student leadership Program, student-focused webinars, and a Student Advisory Council.
-Pieper High School sophomore Jordyn Polk was one of 10 students selected for a student leadership program at West Point. She also received the participation award at the program.
-Jordyn Polk, a sophomore at Pieper High School, was one of 10 students selected to attend the 2022 Fall Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in October. She is pictured here on the back row, third from the left.
-Jordyn Polk received the participation award at the end of the week-long student leadership program at West Point.